Sat. Dec 4th, 2021

The irony of food insecurity in an ‘agrarian’ country


Agriculture is the backbone of our economy and it accommodates huge number of labour forces directly and indirectly as source of employments. It also augments the growth of industrial sectors particularly sugar and textile mills by providing raw materials and livestock feed on it. However, it is unfortunate that Pakistan being the land of double cropping zone with fertility and well irrigation system can produce all types of crops but not yet self-sufficient today in producing food like wheat.

Food is the basic necessity of life in which wheat is a vital staple component of dietary of the entire population. Now-a-days there is hue and cry over the shortage of wheat stock across the country triggering price hike in markets. To meet the country’s requirement, government is going to import wheat and sugar. Whereas, there is already huge gap between balance of payments as massive foreign exchange reserve is consumed on import goods while our export products and services are very low. And now food (wheat) import bills would also have burden on the already fragile foreign exchange reserve.

Some of the major problems facing Agricultural sector in the country are lack of capital; deficient of modern technologies; scarcity of certified seeds, pesticide and fertilizers on subsidized rates.  Water logging, salinity, land erosion and floods are also causing damage to various crops and pulses annually. Black marketing, smuggling and profiteering are yet another evil committed by powerful mafias in the country.

Further, a huge quantity of wheat gets spoiled due to lack of proper preservation mechanism. This sector has been given least attention of our rulers past and present due to which the country is facing food insecurity and price hike that makes life more challenging.

To become self-sufficient in agricultural products government should pay heed to this sector by introducing reforms in intensive and extensive farming processes. For instance, to increase yields, farmers should be supplied with modern machineries, certified seeds, insecticide chemicals and fertilizers on subsidized rates.

As far as extensive farming is concerned, more piece of land need to be exploited by leveling barren land; mitigating water logging and salinity and protecting land erosion.  Additionally, repairing irrigation channels and providing modern knowledge and skills to farmers are very critical components for growing healthy and bumper crops.

Moreover, sufficient quota of grains should be transported to remote mountainous regions on time with enough stock piles in stores for at a period of least two months and be distributed based on verified population data.  Lastly, concerned authorities should also have stern control mechanism in place over mishandling, mismanagement, smuggling and profiteering by powerful mafia and violators must be penalized.

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